Who: Thomas Obaton
What: Chez Lucienne
When: Sat-Sun Brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: 308 Lennox Ave, West Harlem, New York
Why: Because this weekend, try classic French brunch at a restaurant you probably haven’t been to before.
My perfect weekend consists of sleeping late then catching up with friends over a leisurely restaurant brunch. I was lucky enough to experience just that at the new Chez Lucienne, a French bistro, in the heart of Harlem. TDO editor, Carolyn, and I convened at noon for two full hours of fine food, fine service, and fine company. Head chef, Thomas Obaton, from Lyon, France serves up a delightfully traditional French menu at this charming eatery. Carolyn and I came on an empty stomach so as to better test out the menu. Perhaps we went a little overboard ordering drinks, plate to share, and individual entrees but we couldn’t resist (That’s how good the food is). But then again, the restaurant does offer up both a brunch appetizer menu in addition to the main menu!
We split the French Toast aux Fruits Frais which was absolutely mouth watering. Light and fluffy bread topped with whipped cream and maple syrup, then garnished with fresh fruit, this dish is good enough to order for just yourself. Though it was a toss-up, I decided the Crêpes aux Montrachet as my main course. This classic French favorite is filled with sautéed spinach, goat cheese, and wild mushrooms with roasted peppers on the side. The blend of fresh and distinct flavors creates the perfect crisp but hearty brunch dish. I must confess, I was tempted to order seconds right there on the spot!
Carolyn had the Salade Niçoise Classique and said it tasted healthy AND good, so much for the myth that you can’t eat light and eat well. Aside from the great brunch food, the staff at Chez Lucienne was very friendly and attentive, always a major plus. The outdoor seating put you right on the sidewalk, perfect for ADD eaters like myself who enjoy a little neighborhoody scenery during their feasting time. For me, Chez Lucienne offered more than just a great meal, it also gave me a reason to get out of downtown Manhattan and an eating scene I know too well, to venture uptown to a neighborhood with a fun albeit different vibe (before Sunday I had only been to Harlem a few times and never to eat). I highly recommend Chez Lucienne to anyone looking for simple and delicious French favorites at very reasonable prices in a different setting than the norm. I look forward to hopping on the 2 train again to try out dinner at my new favorite Harlem spot.